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Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft, and theUbisoft logo are trademarks ofUbisoft I pushed back the hood of my robes, shook my hair free and looked down upon. The Secret Crusade. Assassin's Creed (Series). Book 3. Oliver Bowden Author Gildart Jackson Narrator (). cover image of Forsaken. Assassin's Creed series 5 books by Oliver Bowden (Free Download Epub) Contains: Renaissance. Brotherhood. The Secret Crusade. Revelations. Forsaken.


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Assassin's Creed: Forsaken (Assassin's Creed #5) by Oliver Bowden man can free the people from the Borgia tyranny- Ezio Auditore, the Master Assassin. Oliver Bowden - [Assassins Creed 06] - Black Flag (epub) - dokument [*.epub] ASSASSIN'S CREED: FORSAKEN ASSASSIN'S CREED: BLACK FLAG THE Sure enough we made it our business to hunt down this particular brig, and when we it too deep, and when I tried to wrench it free his writhing body came with it. Download Assassins Creed: Forsaken for free; Oliver Bowden books; Assassins Creed: Forsaken epub; isbn download ; epub.

Automatyczne logowanie. His expression hardly changed, and with fast movements of his elbow and forearm he met my attack easily. He was concentrating on my left hand, the hand that held the sword, and before I even realized he was doing it, my cutlass went spinning from my bloody fingers to the dirt. My hidden blade was all I had left now. He concentrated on it, knowing it was new to me.

Only they would be so bold as to kill Jean and send a man to kill the wife of the Grand Master. No doubt they hope to destabilize us. On this occasion they failed. We must make sure that if they try again, they fail again. One day you will lead us. But before that you will be initiated as a Templar, and before that you will learn the ways of our Order.

Starting tomorrow you will begin to learn combat. I had already begun to learn combat. I had been learning combat for over a year now. I can only hope the fact that it will be so different is not a source of anxiety for you.

I can only hope you embrace the potential you have to fulfill your destiny. Now I knew for sure. So that was what the staff had been told. Lots of lies, lots of secrets. It thrilled me to know that I was one of only two people — well three, I suppose, if you counted the doctor — who knew the full truth of what had happened yesterday, one of a select number who knew it was Mother who had dealt with the attack, not some mystery man — and one of the select few who knew the full extent of the family business, not to mention my own part in it.

I had awakened that morning with sunshine in my life. At last I knew why it was that our family seemed so different from the others, why I myself had never fitted in with the other children. It was because my destiny lay along a different path from theirs, and always had. With a smile he stopped himself.

Perhaps in matters of beliefs, you would be better advised to heed the words of your father the Grand Master. The conclusions she reaches shall be her own. I did I was as I was told. Father shot an impressed look at my mother and studied my posture, walking around me as I bathed in the glow of his approval.

I had thought we were seeing a little more of him than usual at the chateau. Tell me, does he still hold a torch for you? At the time I had no idea what they meant, of course.

But I do now. Seeing Mr. Weatherall the other night, a broken man. Oh, I do now. But Elise will be Grand Master one day. She will follow in my footsteps. In matters of combat and tactics she may be your protege, Julie, but in matters of belief, she must be mine.

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Is that understood? An unspoken verite cachee. He came forward. It was Mr. For a second he and Father regarded one another carefully, before Mr. Weatherall bowed deeply and the two shook hands. Weatherall turned his attention back to Father. I know that with you, Freddie, they are in good hands. Father nodded and addressed Mother. They had returned for a morning of shouting. And it was funny how knowing what I did cast my father in a new light.

But a busy man. A man of responsibility, whose attention was constantly required. A man whose decisions changed lives. The Crows were entering as we left, politely greeting Mother and Mr. Eventually we stepped outside, the three of us, and walked for some way before Mr. Weatherall spoke. All that responsibility to come? He nodded, as if that was good enough for him.

We shall work on your riposte and your envelopment and you may show off your skills to your father. Perhaps one day you shall be a better swordsman and than either your mother or your father. Weatherall became serious. Are we going to talk about what went on yesterday? Elise acquitted herself perfectly, and. It is a matter of regret that one of the men escaped. Weatherall stopped. There was more than one? There was another man, the more dangerous of the two.

He used a hidden blade. Have you ever known an Assassin to run? I think I should have been tempted to run myself in his shoes.

Mother glowed. He was all. He was an Assassin, the hidden blade was proof of that. But I wonder, was he a true Assassin? Before arriving back at the chateau, she had me run and hide it, and she handed it to Mr.

Weatherall now. Open it. See the label inside? Weatherall, surprised. Very possibly. Do you not think it plausible that the English might want me dead? I made it plain to Madame Carroll that I favored a change of monarchy.

And Madame Carroll seemed to think that was enough for her Order. Perhaps not, though. Weatherall shook his head. Killing you risks destabilizing that. Weatherall nodded. And of the doctor there has been no sight or sound since. The attempt on our lives has disappeared into history, like paupers swallowed up by the Paris fog. I want to hear songs and laughter from the kitchen again. I want an end to this contained sadness and I want my smile to be real, no longer masking a hurt that churns inside.

And more than all of that I want my mother back. My mother, my teacher, my mentor. Every moment of every day I wonder what life would be like without her and have no idea, no conception of life without her. I want her to get better. For how long did we have a normal, conventional relationship?

Half an hour? I was at the Palace of Versailles with my father, who had business there. Her smile I would come to love later, her red hair nothing special to me then, and the beauty over which my adult eyes would later linger was invisible to my young eyes. And so it was with Elise. There was something different about her.

She was a girl. Chase me. Her favorite game. How many times did we play it as children and as adults? In a way we never stopped. Even to me now the palace is huge, its ceilings impossibly tall, its halls stretching almost as far as the eye can see, huge arched windows looking out to the stone steps and sweeping grounds beyond. But to me then? To me then it was impossibly vast. I wonder, had I already fallen in love? And then, just as I started to worry that I would never find my way back to Father, my concerns became irrelevant.

A shout had gone up. There was the sound of rushing feet. I saw soldiers with muskets and, quite by chance, came upon the spot where he had met his killer and I knelt to him as he breathed his last. When at last I looked up from his lifeless body it was to see my savior, my new guardian: Francois de la Serre. Like everyone else her demeanor changed when my father was around, and she curtsied and withdrew, leaving us alone.

I remembered that evening years ago when Mother and I had returned from Paris, survivors of a terrible attack in an alleyway, and how he had been unable to stop taking us in his arms. Now, as he stood there looking more like a governor than a father, I would have given anything for one of those embraces.

He turned and paced, hands clasped behind his back. My fingers worked at the fabric of my smock. He cleared his throat. Just as your strength comforts our household it will one day be of benefit to the Order.

His eyes were dark circles in the reflection of the glass. I knew why he found it difficult to look at me. It was because I reminded him of her. I reminded him of his dying wife. Your mother means the world to us both. And if there was a moment when I might have asked him why, if he knew my pain, did he spend so much of his time with Arno and not with me, then that was it.

Little else was said before he left. Sometime later I heard that he left to go hunting — with Arno. The physician arrives soon.

He never brings good news. I knew that there were serious matters they wanted to discuss when Olivier was asked to withdraw, the door closed and Father bade me take a seat. I nodded enthusiastically, looking from one to the other. Obviously you take after your mother. I was forgotten. For a second it was just Mother and Father in the room, being playful and flirting with one another. And then, just as quickly as the moment had begun, it ended and the attention returned to me.

Poor Ruth. With Arno on the estate not only did I have a playmate whenever I wanted one, but a boy playmate. Her dreams lay in ruins. I suppose, looking back, I had taken advantage of him rather. I loved besting him in pretend sword fights. During Mr. At other games — skipping, hopscotch, shuttlecock — we were evenly matched. But I always won at sword fighting.

When the weather was fine we roamed the grounds of the estate, spying on Emanuel and other grounds staff, skimming stones on the lake. When it rained we stayed indoors and played backgammon, marbles or jacks. We spun hoops through the great corridors of the ground floor and roamed the floors above, hiding from housemaids, running giggling when they shooed us away.

And that was how I spent my days: Even then, though I never would have articulated it as such, I knew that Arno represented my escape. And of course nobody had failed to notice how close Arno and I had become. Now I know how she might have felt.

Yet it had never occurred to me that my friendship with Arno might be a cause for concern. Not until that very moment when I stood before them in the chamber and they told me they had something to say about him.

And a little bit of my world shook. The other of the Assassin doctor in the alleyway, his hat tall in the fog. My mind was racing. But does this mean Arno will want to kill me? Arno is still your friend. Though his father, Charles Dorian, was an Assassin, Arno himself knew nothing of his destiny. No doubt he would have been told, in time, perhaps on his tenth birthday as we were planning to do with you. Simply the son of an Assassin. In many ways Arno is, was and always will be an Assassin.

I felt myself coloring. Was it so obvious? It is gratifying to see. Most encouraging. Perhaps we can save him from the clutches of his people. Let Arno be for me, nothing to do with the way we see the world, the way we want to shape the world. Let the bit of my life I share with Arno be free of all that. He pursed his lips, not especially liking this wall of resistance thrown up by his womenfolk.

A child of this house. He will be brought up according to the doctrines of the house. To put it bluntly, Elise, we need to get to him before the Assassins do. If the Assassins reach him, they will bring him into the Order. He would not be able to resist. Not when the children are so young.

Do as you wish for the time being. We shall review the situation later. What will I do without her? To the rest of the house, she began to cease to exist. My morning routine stayed the same, spent with my governor, then in the woods at the edge of our grounds, learning sword fighting with Mr. I watched as he began to gravitate toward my father. My father and I were both trying to cope with the gradual loss of Mother, both finding different ways to do it.

The laughter in my life gradually faded away. I used to have a dream. In the fantasy I was sitting on the throne. I am sitting on the throne before my assembled subjects, who in the daydream have no identity but I suppose must be Templars.

They are assembled before me, the Grand Master. Each day that she grows a little weaker and closer to death, and each day that he gravitates closer toward Arno, the impression of them at my side becomes more and more indistinct. My shoulders shook as I began to sob. Be strong for me.

I am being taken from you and you must see that as a test of your strength. You must be strong, not only for yourself, but also for your father.

My passing makes him vulnerable to the raised voices of the Order. You must be a voice in his other ear, Elise.

You must press for the third way. And one day you will be the Grand Master, and you must lead the Order abiding by your own principles.

The principles in which you believe. Her eyes were cloudy and the smile floated on her face. So much of it. In you, I see the best of your father and the best of me. My hands gripped her upper arm through the sheets. Her so-thin upper arm through the sheets.

As though by holding it I might prevent her soul departing. Her red hair was spread across the pillow. Her eyes fluttered. I rushed to the door, flung it open, called for one of the Maries to fetch Father, slammed the door shut again and returned to her side, but the end was coming quickly now, and as death settled over her she looked at me with watering eyes and the fondest smile I have ever seen.

When she was ill I wanted her back to full health. Now she is dead I just want her here. I just want her in the house. This morning I watched from my window as three carriages arrived on the gravel outside and valets lowered steps and began to load them with trunks.

Shortly afterward the three Maries appeared and began giving each other kisses good-bye. They wore black and dabbed their eyes and of course they grieved for Mother but it was a temporary grief by necessity, because their work here was over, payment made, and they would go to tend to other dying women and feel the same passing sadness when that next appointment came to an end.

I tried not to think of their departure as being in indecent haste. I tried not to resent their leaving me alone with my grief. They were hardly alone in not knowing my depth of feeling. Mother had made Father promise not to observe the usual mourning rituals, and so the drapes of the lower floors stayed open and the furniture was not cloaked in black. There were newer members of staff who had only known Mother briefly, or never met her at all.

The Mother I remembered was beautiful and graceful and protective, but to them she was remote. She was a weak lady in bed, and a lot of households had one of those. Even more than the Maries their mourning was nothing more than a brief pang of sadness. And so the household carried on almost as though nothing had happened, just a few of us truly grieving, the few who had known and loved Mother as she was. She curtsied, thanked me for my comfort and left.

We were like two survivors of a great battle sharing memories with our eyes. She, I and Father were the only three remaining in the chateau who had tended to Mother as she lay dying. She clasped me to her, pulling me into her bosom and rubbing my back as though trying to wind me. I feel nothing. Unable to stand the upper floors any longer, I left to wander the chateau, passing through the hallways like a ghost.

The corridor seemed too long between us. He was hopping from one foot to another. But that was it. He was probably missing Father, I reasoned, watching him go. Out timetables were ordered so that Arno should be with the governor while I trained with Mr. Weatherall, so that he would never see me sword fighting.

Perhaps in his own journal one day he will talk of signposts toward that moment when the penny dropped. Weatherall sat on a stump waiting for me. He had used to sit with his legs crossed and the tails of his jacket arranged over the stump, cutting quite a dash, and where before he had bounded from it to greet me, the light dancing in his eyes, a smile never far from his lips, now his head was bowed as though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Beside him on the seat was a box about a foot and a half long, a hand wide. His eyes were heavy. His bottom lip trembled a little and for a horrible moment I wondered what I would do if Mr. Weatherall were to cry.

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Sure enough a short sword lay within. Its sheath was soft brown leather with white stitching along the sides, and the belt a leather strap designed for tying at the waist. The blade of the sword took the light; the steel was new, its handle bound tight with stained leather. There by the hilt was an inscription. Love, Mother.

I wished I could move forward to a time when the sword thrilled me. For now I felt nothing. There was a long pause. Neither of us had the heart for it. At the end, I mean. Ill Later, I was summoned to see Father and the two of us sat on a chaise longue in his darkened study, he with his arms around me, holding me tight. He had shaved, and outwardly was the same as he always was, but his words emerged slow and forced and brandy clouded his breath.

I found myself almost envying his ability to touch the source of his pain. And I did. I let it out. And at last I began to cry. Extract from the Journal of Arno Dorian 12 September Guilt- stricken, I laid down her journal, overwhelmed by the pain that poured off the page. Horribly aware of my own contribution to her misery Elise is right. To the selfish young boy I was, it was just something that prevented Francois and Elise from playing with me.

An inconvenience that meant that until things returned to normal — and Elise was right, because of the house opting not to mourn, things did seem to get back to normal more quickly — I had to make my own entertainment.

But I was only a little boy, just ten. Ah, but so was Elise, just ten. And yet so far ahead of me in intelligence. She writes of our time with the governor, but how he must have groaned when it was my turn to be taught.

Or so it seems to me reading these pages. The little girl I knew was just a little girl, full of fun and mischief and yes, like a sister, inventing all the best games, being handy with the excuses when we were caught out of bounds or stealing food from the kitchen or in doing whatever other japes she had planned for the day.

Little wonder, then, that when Elise was sent to the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis school at Saint- Cyr in order to complete her education she ran into trouble. Neither of those two opposing sides of her personality were suitable for school life, and predictably she hated the Maison Royale. Hated it. Though it was just under thirty kilometers away from Versailles, she might as well have been in a different country for all the distance she felt between her new life and her old.

In her letters she referred to it as Le Palais de la Misere. Visits home were restricted to three weeks in the summer and a few days at Christmas, while the rest of her year was spent submitting to the regimes of the Maison Royale.

Elise was not one for regimes. Not unless they suited her. The regime of learning sword with Mr. She hated the restrictions of school life. So in her journal there is entry after entry of Elise in trouble at school. The entries themselves become repetitive. Years and years of unhappiness and frustration. The way things worked at the school was that the girls were split into groups, each with a head pupil.

Of course Elise had clashed with the head of her group, Valerie, and the two had fought. Time and time again, Elise was brought before the hated headmistress, Madame Levene, asked to explain herself, then punished. And time and time again she would respond with insolence and her insolence would make the situation worse and the severity of the punishments was increased.

And the more the punishments were increased the more rebellious Elise became, and the more rebellious Elise became the more she was brought before the headmistress and the more insolent she was and the more the punishments were increased. I, an orphan, had never been sent letters before, and the novelty of receiving them from Elise never faded.

And of course she wrote of her hatred for school, but the correspondence lacked the detail of her journal, from which pulsed the scorn and contempt Elise felt for other pupils, for the teachers and for the hated headmistress, Madame Levene.

The king had apparently stood on the terraces at Versailles to enjoy the huge display, but even so it was not enough to cheer Elise. Instead, her journal was filled with a sense of injustice and of Elise at odds with the world around her — page after page and year after year of my love failing to see the vicious circle into which she was locked.

It was mourning. And reading on, I began to discover that there was something else she had wit hhe ld from me. With the window behind her offering a sweeping view of the school grounds that even I had to admit was stunning, she sat with her hands clasped on the desk in front of her, watching with a thin smile as Father and I sat in chairs on the other side of the desk, the awkward Father and his rebellious daughter.

He looked old and tired and I could imagine the chattering Crows at his shoulder, constantly badgering him — do this, do that — while to add to his woe his errant daughter was the subject of irate letters home, Madame Levene detailing my shortcomings at great length. The king authorized the building of a wall around Paris. He has tried to increase taxes but the parlement in Paris supported the nobles who defied him. Our stout and resolute king panicked, withdrew the taxes and there were demonstrations of celebration.

Soldiers ordered to fire into the demonstrators refused to do so. He nodded. Perhaps they hope that the man on the street will be grateful, pass a vote of thanks and return home. I fear that once the workingman has the bit between his teeth, once he has a taste for the power — the potential power of the mob — then he will not be content merely with the withdrawal of some new tax laws.

I think we may find a lifetime of frustration flooding out of these people, Elise. Of the controller-general of finances? He has been forced to leave the country. Other ministers have followed.

There will be unrest, Elise, you mark my words. A lady. And you should be behaving like one. All it did was make me feel like a pretend-lady. When I felt like a real woman was after school, when I discarded the hated bone-stiff dress, unpinned my hair and let it drop to where it met my newly acquired bosom.

When I gazed into the looking glass and saw my mother staring back at me. Then with a deep breath he turned to the headmistress.

He drummed his fingers on the leg of his breeches. You know exactly what I mean. Before you came away to school we agreed that the time was right to adopt Arno into our family. In response I gave him my most beatific, innocent look. His eyes grew affectionate as we shared the moment. He was more measured when he spoke. Simply to say that if you continue to fail to abide by them, then I shall have to take matters into my own hands.

It was the moment I came closest to simply bursting out laughing. Bring him into the fold. My heart grew heavy at the thought — the thought of somehow losing Arno. Yet it was do that or have Father do it himself. There and then I decided that, for him, I would improve. I would do right by him. Be the daughter he deserved. Not only had I neglected to persuade Arno of the joys of converting to the Templar cause a situation at least partly informed by me disloyally wondering if in fact there were any joys in converting to the Templar cause , my behavior at the Maison Royale had failed to improve.

It had really failed to improve. It had got a lot worse. Why, only yesterday Madame Levene called me into her office, the third time in as many weeks. How many times had I made the trip across the years? And I had learned to anticipate the swish of the cane. Even welcome it. Not to blink when the cane left its brand upon my skin. It was just as I expected this time, more repercussions from a fight with Valerie, who as well as being our group leader was also the star drama pupil when it came to productions by Racine and Corneille.

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Take my advice, dear reader, and never pick an actress as an adversary. They are so terribly dramatic about everything. Or, as Mr. It had happened while I was supposedly on probation for an act of minor revolt at dinner the month before, which is nothing worth going into here. The point was that the headmistress claimed to be at the end of her tether. Quite enough young lady. Except, this time, I was pretty sure it was more than just talk.

Do your worst, Levene; do your worst, Father. Now, however, I switched to looking at Madame Levene, her pinched, pruny face, her eyes like stones behind her spectacles. And from what I read in the letter, this emissary has been given the task of beating some sense into you.

My father was sending an emissary. Perhaps he planned to isolate me, I thought, suddenly realizing how horrific I found the idea. My father, one of only three people in the world I truly loved and trusted, simply shutting me out.

There was another circle of hell into which I could be cast. Madame Levene gloated. It appears that your father is too busy to attend to this matter himself. He must send an emissary in his place. Perhaps, Elise, you are not as important to him as you might imagine. Those stony eyes glittered. I had stayed out of trouble the week prior to his arrival. According to the other girls I was quieter than usual. Actually, what I was doing was readying myself, mentally and physically.

The emissary would be expecting meek acquiescence. He would be expecting a frightened teenager, terrified of expulsion and happy to take any other punishment. The emissary was expecting tears and contrition. I was summoned to the office, told to wait, and wait I did.

It had never brought me any luck. Now was its chance. But first, you shall write to him a letter of abject apology. And when that is done I shall administer your punishment, which you may expect to be the most severe you have ever experienced. Then he pulled up a chair, put his elbows to the surface of the desk and, whispering, we began to talk. He chortled softly. After all, you were expecting to have seven shades of shit knocked out of you. Not the reaction I wanted.

Your education — delayed. Your induction — delayed. Your ascendance to Grand Master — delayed. Exactly what would that path have achieved, eh? And the family name, come to that.

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So why are you so intent on dragging it through the mud? Why are you seeing to it that you never get as far as Grand Master? Most able pupil I ever had, but also the most impulsive.

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Bit too full of herself. How would I manage that? So you could sneak away every now and then instead of always being the center of attention. The sword given to you by your mother was for exactly that purpose.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Every single one of them would like to end the reign of de la Serre and make it so their family name carries the title Grand Master. Every single one of them is looking for reasons to depose your father and snatch the title for himself.

Their policies differ from those of your father, remember? He hangs on to their confidence by a thread.

Having an errant daughter is the last thing he bloody needs. No doubt Madame Levene had her ear pressed hard against it, and it was for her benefit that Mr. I could smell wine on his breath.

Been trying to get back in ever since. Likes a wager by the sounds of things. Weatherall shot me an impressed look. Could be that killing your mother would have brought him even greater disgrace. To me this sounds as though he was offering his services to the highest bidder, trying to clear those gambling debts. I reckon our friend Ruddock was working as a sword for hire. He would have been around when you were a child.

He had some dodgy ideas and your father turfed him out of the Order. The idea was too far-fetched. Weatherall continued. With her out of the way. There might be people within our own organization who wished us wrong. I had to find out — I had to find out either way.

And also. There are some similarities between me and Mr. Well, I could say the same of you, pissing away the last of your education, making enemies when you should be forging connections and contacts. Not until your own house is in order.

We have contacts in London. The Carrolls, if you recall. Lor crying out loud, girl, what on earth would your father say? How about we do nothing of the sort? How about you stay here? This man has haunted my nightmares for years, Mr. You forget how well I know you. More likely you want the excitement, and you want to get away from this place.

This stage of my life cannot end soon enough for me. I take it you have been intercepting the letters. At some point, Elise, one way or another, your lies will be exposed. I thought I could talk some sense into you.

He nodded and cast his voice toward the door. This letter I shall take home to your father, accompanied by the news that I gave you six strokes of the cane. He blanched. Held out fingers again. At the same time he used the cover of his back and sleight of hand to pluck a cushion from her chair and skim it across the floor to me.

It was all very smooth. Like we did it every day What a team we made. I picked up the cushion and laid it across the desk as he walked over with a cane, and once more we were out of sight of the keyhole. I stood to one side while he gave the cushion ten smart whacks, making suitable ouch noises after each one. And after all, when it came to authentic pain noises, who knew better than I? I could imagine Madame Levene cursing as all the action happened out of sight, no doubt planning to rearrange the furniture as soon as possible.

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Madame Levene was standing in the vestibule some distance away. I arranged my face to look like a person who had recently been punished, gave her a baleful look with my red-rimmed eyes and, with my head down and resisting the temptation to give Mr.

Weatherall a good-bye wink, I scuttled off as if to lick my wounds. In fact I had a little thinking to do. How did this start? But not me. The way she looked from left to right. The way she headed toward the path that led in the direction of the sports fields and, yes, maybe, the woods at the perimeter. It had taken me two nights of keeping watch, but last night I saw her again. Just as before, she left the schoolhouse, and with the same furtive air, although not furtive enough to detect a window opening in the schoolhouse above, and me climbing from it, clambering down the trellis to the ground and setting off in pursuit.

At last I was putting my training into action. I became like a wraith in the night, keeping her just in sight, silently tracking her as she used the light of the moon to navigate her way along the lawn and to the perimeter of the sports fields. They were an open expanse and I scowled for a moment — then did what my mother and Mr.

Weatherall had always taught me to do. I assessed the situation. Madame Levene with the light of the moon behind her — her old bespectacled eyes versus my young ones. I decided to stay behind her, keeping her in the distance, so that she was little more than a shadow ahead of me. They were. The witch kept on going until she reached the tree line and was swallowed up by the harsh shapes of tree trunks and undergrowth.

The route reminding me of years spent taking a similar track to see Mr. I drew to a halt and from my position behind a tree watched as she knocked gently and the door was opened.

So this was her lover in the woods. One thing I did know was that he was younger than Madame Levene. What a dark horse she was.

I returned, knowing the rumors were true. And, unfortunately for her, not only was I the one in possession of that information, but I was not above using it to get what I wanted from her. Indeed, that was precisely what I intended to do.

Neither one of my enemies nor my admirers, Judith face was impassive as she delivered the news that the headmistress wanted to see me in her office right away in order to talk about the theft of a horseshoe from the dormitory door. When will this torture ever end? Madame Levene was playing right into my hands. A letter in which Madame Levene informed him that his daughter Elise was to be leaving for individual English tuition in.

If all went to plan, that was. At her door I knocked smartly, entered, then, with my shoulders flung back and my chin inclined, strode across her office to where she sat before the window and dropped the horseshoe on her desk.

There was a moment of silence. You have returned the stolen horseshoe. It was my journal. I felt my eyes widen. Was suddenly short of breath. My fists flexing. Pored over by most hated enemy. My temper began to rise. I fought to control my breathing and my shoulders rose and fell, fists still clenching and unclenching. We were both caught — hoisted halfway between shame at our own actions and outrage at what had been done to us.

Myself, I felt a potent brew of fury, guilt and sheer hatred, and in my mind formed the image of me diving across the desk at her, hands fixing around her neck as her eyes bulged behind her round spectacles. Instead, I simply stared at her, barely able to comprehend what was happening. I saw you creeping around outside the cottage the other night.

I saw you spying on me and Jacques. And so I thought, not unreasonably, that your journal might illuminate me as to your intentions. Do you deny that you intended to blackmail me, de la Serre? Her voice rose. As though she had never even encountered the concept before. I bridled.

Your hatred — no, worse, your contempt — for me pours off every page. Your guardian. And you, in particular, came to me a damaged girl, fresh from the loss of her mother. You, in particular, needed special attention. Nobody with your spirit should settle down to a life of domesticity. From you I want silence about what you saw; from me you want a letter to your father. One who has held on to the spirit of the little girl but abandoned the hotheaded juvenile. As I reached the door she stopped me.

And after a fairly tumultuous last two days I write this entry in. Well, no. There was just me in a carriage and my trunk lashed to the top.

It was late and the sea was a dark, undulating shimmer beyond the cobbles of the harbor and the bobbing mast of moored ships. Above us were squawking gulls and around us were the people of the docks, staggering from tavern to tavern, the night in full swing, a rowdy hubbub in the air. My coachman took disapproving looks left and right, then stood on the footboard to free my trunk before laying it on the cobbles of the dockside.

He opened my door and his eyes boggled. Off had come the accursed dress and I now wore breeches, a shirt, waistcoat and justaucorps.

And now, as I stepped out of the carriage, I plonked my tricorn on my head, bent to my trunk and opened it, all under the speechless gaze of the coachman. My trunk full of the clothes I hated and trinkets I planned to throw away anyway.

From my waistcoat I took a small leather purse and proffered coins. He looked at it. Just steer clear of the taverns and stay near the lantern light. Oh, and whatever you do, keep that purse hidden. I watched the carriage draw away, then headed straight to the nearest one. My father's name was Bernard. My mother, Linette. They hailed from Swansea but had found their way to the West Country when I was ten years old. We still had the Welsh accent. I don't suppose I minded much that it marked us out as different.

I was a sheep-farmer, not one of the sheep. Father and Mother used to say I had the gift of the gab, and Mother in particular used to tell me I was a good-looking young man, and that I could charm the birds off the trees, and it's true, even though I do say so myself, I did have a certain way with the ladies.

Let's put it this way: How I spent my days would depend on the season. January to May was lambing season, our busiest time, when I'd find myself in the barns by sun-up, sore head or not, needing to see whether any ewes had lambed during the night.

If they had, then they were taken into one of the smaller barns and put into pens, lambing jugs we called them, where Father would take over, while I was cleaning feeders, filling them up again, changing the hay and water, and Mother would be assiduously recording details of the new births in a journal. Me, I didn't have my letters then. I do now, of course; Caroline taught me them, along with much else that made me a man, but not back then, so that duty fell to Mother, whose own letters weren't much better but enough to at least keep a record.

They loved working together, Mother and Father. Even more reason why Father liked me going into town. He and my mother-it was as though they were joined at the hip. I had never seen another two people so much in love and with so little need to make a display of the fact. It was plain to witness that they kept each other going. It was good for the soul to see. In the autumn we'd bring the rams through to the pasture to graze with the ewes, so that they could go on with the business of producing more lambs for the following spring.

Fields needed tending to; fences and walls required building and repairing. In winter, if the weather was very bad, we brought the sheep into the barns, kept them safe and warm, ready for January, when lambing season began. But it was during summer when I really came into my own. Shearing season. Mother and Father carried out the bulk of it while I made more frequent trips into town, not with carcasses for meat but with my cart laden with wool.

In the summer, with even more opportunity to do so, I found myself frequenting the local taverns more and more. You could say I became a familiar sight in the taverns, in fact, in my long, buttoned-up waistcoat, knee-breeches, white stockings and the slightly battered brown tricorn that I liked to think of as being my trade-mark, because my mother said it went well with my hair which was permanently in need of a cut but quite a striking sandy colour, if I do say so myself.

It was in the taverns I discovered that my gift of the gab was improved after a few ales at noon. The booze, it has that effect, doesn't it?

Loosens tongues, inhibitions, morals. Not that I was exactly shy and retiring when I was sober, but the ale, it gave me that extra edge. Or at least that's what I told myself at the time. After all, the money from extra sales made as a result of my ale-inspired salesmanship more than covered the cost of the ale in the first place.

There was something else too, apart from the foolish notion that Edward in his cups was a better salesman than Edward sober, and that was my state of mind. Because the truth was, I thought I was different. No, I knew I was different. There were times I'd sit by myself at night and know I was seeing the world in a way that was all my own.

I know what it is now but I couldn't put it into words back then other than to say I felt different. Either because of that or despite it, I'd decided I didn't want to be a sheep-farmer all my life. I knew it the first day, when I set foot on the farm as an employee, and not as a child, and I saw myself, then looked at my father, and understood that I was no longer here to play and would soon go home to dream about a future setting sail on the high seas.

No, this was my future, and I would spend the rest of my life as sheep-farmer, working for my father, marrying a local girl, siring boys and teaching them to become sheep-farmers, just like their father, just like their grandfather. I saw the rest of my life laid out for me, like neat work-clothes on a bed, and rather than feel a warm surge of contentment and happiness about that fact, it terrified me.

So the truth was, and there's no way of putting it more gently, and I'm sorry, Father, God rest your soul, but I hated my job. And after a few ales, well, I hated it less, is all I can say.

Was I blotting out my dashed dreams with the booze? I never really thought about it at the time. All I knew was that sitting on my shoulder, perched there like a mangy cat, was a festering resentment at the way my life was turning out-or, worse, actually had turned out. Perhaps I was a little indiscreet concerning some of my true feelings. I might on occasion have given my fellow drinkers the impression that I felt life had better things in store for me.

What can I say? I was young and arrogant and a sot. A lethal combination at the best of times, and these were definitely not the best of times. Or variations of it, at least. Perhaps it would have been more diplomatic of me to answer in the negative, but I didn't, and so I found myself in more than my fair share of fights. Perhaps it was to prove that I was better than them in all things, fighting included. Perhaps because in my own way I was upholding the family name. A drinker I might have been.

A seducer. But not a coward. Oh no. Never one to shrink from a fight. It was during the summertime when my recklessness reached its heights; when I would be most drunk and most boisterous, and mainly a bit of a pain in the arse. But on the other hand, all the more likely to help a young lady in distress. THREE She was in the Auld Shillelagh, a tavern halfway between Hatherton and Bristol, which was a regular haunt of mine and sometimes, in the summer when Mother and Father toiled over the shearing at home, when I'd make more frequent trips into town, it was regular to the tune of several times a day.

I admit I hadn't taken much notice of her at first, which was unusual for me because I liked to pride myself on knowing the exact location of any pretty woman nearabouts, and besides, the Shillelagh wasn't the sort of place you expected to find a pretty woman. A woman, yes. A certain type of woman. But this girl I could see wasn't like that: Looked to me like a domestic. But it wasn't her clothes that drew my attention. It was the loudness of her voice, which you'd have to say was in complete contrast to the way she looked.

She was sitting with three men, all of them older than her, who I recognized at once: Tom Cobleigh, his son Seth, and Julian somebody, whose surname escaped me, but who worked with them: They were sat forward on their stools and watching this young girl with leering, wolfish eyes that betrayed a darker purpose even though they were all smiles, thumping on the table, encouraging her as she drank dry a flagon of ale.

No, she did not look like one of the women who usually frequented the tavern, but it seemed she was determined to act like one of them.

The flagon was about as big as she was, and as she wiped her hand across her mouth and hammered it to the table, the men responded with cheers, shouting for another one and no doubt pleased to see her wobble slightly on her stool.

Probably couldn't believe their luck. Pretty little thing like that. I watched as they let the girl drink yet more ale with the same tumult accompanying her success, then as she did the same as before, and wiped her hand across her mouth, but with an even more pronounced wobble this time, a look passed between them. A look that seemed to say, The Job Is Done. Tom and Julian stood, and they began, in their words, to "escort" her to the door, because, "You've had too much to drink, my lovely, let's get you home, shall we?

A customer sat down the bar from me turned away. Automatyczne logowanie Zarejestruj. Zaloguj Anuluj. Opublikowany